Despite police protection, the wedding procession of a Dalit Army jawan in Gujarat’s Banaskantha district was on Sunday pelted with stones by a group of people, allegedly from another community because the groom rode a mare.
According to police, the incident took place around 11 am at Sharifda village when Akash Kumar Koitiya (22), a jawan with the military police wing of the Army, started on his wedding procession. A Dalit, Koitiya had recently finished his training in Bengaluru and was about to join his posting at Meerut. He was on leave for his wedding.
“Earlier, we received threats from a few people from the Thakor Koli community that they would not allow the procession to pass through the village if the groom rode a mare. We gave a written request for police security after which 6-7 police personnel were deployed to accompany the wedding procession. However, after the procession started moving, a group of people started throwing stones. The groom narrowly escaped an injury and was taken to the police control room van. However, three of our relatives, including two women, were injured in the stone-pelting,” said Vijay Koitiya, the elder brother of Akash. Vijay, too, is with the Army and is posted in Jammu and Kashmir.
Following the incident, multiple police teams were rushed to the village. “At least 50-60 policemen joined the wedding procession as security convoy so that the groom and other baratis could reach the bride’s village, Sundha, in Palanpur taluka. The wedding went on without any incident,” said Dalpat Bhatia, a Dalit rights activist based in Banaskantha.
Taking cognizance of the complaint lodged by the groom’s family, an FIR has been filed at Gadh police station in Banaskantha against 11 people belonging to the Thakor Koli community.
The accused have been identified as Senji Koli, Shivaji Koli, Deepak Koli, Tushar Koli, Bhavan Koli, Vinod Koli, Ramaji Koli, Deepak Ishwar Koli, Bai Koli, Manju Koli and Jeetu Koli.
“The groom and his procession were attacked with stones by a group in the village who objected to him riding a mare. We provided security in advance and after the incident, more personnel were deployed. We have booked 11 accused under Indian Penal Code sections 323 (assault), 337 (causing hurt by rash act) 294 (obscenity), 506 (criminal intimidation) 147 (rioting) and 148 (rioting with deadly weapon) along with sections of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities Act),” said P G Rajput, officer in charge of Gadh police station. No arrests have been made yet, police said.